Researchers pinpoint major hotspots to curb poaching

Elephant poaching continues to be a big problem despite efforts to battle it, but some recent research might help change that. Ivory that has been seized was genetically analyzed to find out where it originated from. That information was amassed, and the result are a pair of newly published papers showing the biggest hotspots where elephants are poached. The data takes it a step further, though, and also shows how to tackle the problem in a (hopefully) more effective manner than in the past.

The papers were recently published in Sciencexpress, and in them we see the researchers used 28 "large" seizures of ivory that happened between 1996 and last year. With the resulting data, they found that as little as two areas in Africa could be the biggest poaching hotspots, though there are many countries involved in trade that facilitates poaching.

Looking at poaching that spans more than just elephants, research shows that removing a dozen countries from the trade network will remove a large portion of poaching of tigers, elephants, and rhinos.

As far as the researcher on elephant poaching hotspots goes, researchers found that most of the seized shipments of ivory ultimately originated from the north Mozambique/Tanzania area and West Africa around the Cameroon and Gabon areas.

Knowing this, it is hopeful that focus will turn to the areas that are major players in the trade and, if they're shut down, put a big dent in elephant poaching.

SOURCE: Smithsonian